Running Compositions

Final project for English 591, December 2015, with Professor Kristin Arola

Running Compositions

Edited by Edie-Marie Roper

The pitch that I started with that came from an earlier multimodal exercise ended up morphing quite a bit as I actually got into the work on collecting my data.

Composed Composing Data

Running Into Views


A Running Composition: on process and ongoing endeavors

Not Quite Up and Running, or, ‘Coming Soon!’

Running Smarts. The podcast that I’ve been wanting to start, have, and maintain for four or so years now is finally coming to be. I love podcasts so much I wanted to make one. But among other barriers, all my ideas sucked. Until now.

“Audioethnography and The Word,” will be one of the chapters to my dissertation. I may or may not be able to include a multimodal element as part of my dissertation but even if I can’t (because of rules, committee [dis]approval, or lack of cohesion with the rest of the work) it will still serve a concept chapter and as an element of my patching runner blogging and now blossoming runner podcast.


Process is something difficult to grade or assess as a teacher and yet, that is where all the fun happens. But it is messy as hell. That is why, as Rhodes and Alexander suggest, we most compose multimodally ourselves in order to teach with it. We cannot teach solely on product and we cannot recognize productive struggle if we haven’t done it ourselves.

My contributors dragged their feet at first (mostly metaphorically, actually) or, converging schedules was a problem (I could only get one or two interviews per Beer-chasing Wednesday). But then a flood of GPS imagery came in, which I asked for after only a few, trickling in volunteers to do running interviews. Data is fun but doesn’t always transfer easily, or at all. And then more people could and wanted to do interviews after all, which was sort of a relief – I could focus on the community and multiple perspectives rather than relying on my own stories and perspectives to entertain and cover it all. Editing takes longer than it seems like it’s going to. I mean, even when I was on a roll, lost in the work, I’d come up for air and four hours had gone by for editing down 5-15 minute episodes out of 30-40 minute interviews. That is why my own audioethnography parts are half-mangled mess files on my computer as are the Running Smarts episodes. And don’t even get me started on the interview I lost. Hurts. So. Much.

None of this would even be happening if it weren’t for the readings teasing out, defining, and redefining what multimodality even is (cite). And Jodi Shipka’s book, Toward a Composition Made Whole, made teaching multimodality accessible and grading, or checking in at least, on process possible. I had pretty much given up on teaching with multimodality but now I not only want to try again, but I can see mutlimodality and inevitably already present in our alphabetic-text focused education. I can see it making tangible for my students what I mean when I talk about language and power, and how we ought not take it for granted. I once had an opportunity to study abroad and one of my mentors talked about how I would remember it, it would affect me and change me all my life, even if only in subtle ways. And one of my other mentors/professors put us out in the city to learn global leadership, because it wasn’t something that we could learn in depth in the classroom. I think multimodality can do that for critical thinking and language and power – through struggle and intense interaction, layered experiences, there is a nuanced depth of learning that can and should happen.




The Pitch & The Pace

The Pitch & The Pace

If we intend to teach with multimodal projects we need to also create multimodal projects – so here we are.

I am terrible at design. The worst.

I am also really uncoordinated and this is one of the things about me that made me a runner. It’s a sport that usually requires minimal coordination, minimal multitasking.

Meanwhile, I love music, podcasts, sound-based communication of knowledge and emotion.

This is what I came up with:

“Call for Pacers

I’m making a podcast about the non-traditional ways we learn and teach concepts and critical thinking. And running. Over the years as I’ve ran with friends, I realized that I’ve learned a lot about life. Running helps me sort through my life, de-stress, process college courses, and let the thought-reel run its course, while I run my course. And when I run with my GPS watch and heart-rate monitor I get all this data, I compose (sort of write), record and create something as I run.

So I want to interview you on my podcast about either:

Concepts you’ve learned through running or while running that applied other places


What do you think of your GPS watches as a composition? How does looking at the data tell a story as well as how long, far, and fast you went? When and why do you run without it? (or do you?)

Or both!

I have a special microphone to wear and record the interview as we go for a run together, but a traditional sit-down interview is also possible. Contact me for more info.”

Example 1 Screenshot 2015-11-09 13.14.36 Screenshot 2015-11-09 13.15.15I want to explore running as a way of knowing and I like the versatility for the audience in podcasts and podcasts is one of the ways I learn new things, particularly things outside of my field. A lot of podcasts have websites with visuals of some kind available – sometimes it’s mostly a home for the mp3, sometimes it’s complimentary to go with, sometimes it’s merely a transcript of the words being heard. All this is to say, they are always multimodal.

Runterviews Modes and Structure


I will interview other runners to see how and when and if they’ve had experiences of knowing and something a bit less academic-y: the GPS watch as a composition and in general, scrutinizing its role in runner’s life. I have already completed one run-terview.



Sample soundbite – this is a recording of a recording so the quality is not representative of what the end product will sound like.

I ask, “how many years have you been running?”


I’m going to have a section examining my process all along the way. I’ve already recorded some on process.

As I discovered on my process recording run on Wednesday, November 4th, it’s empowering to think about my running as a way of knowing – Freire’s concept of the Word, versus the World.

*I’m bad at math. I’ve been running for 18 years, not 12.

I think that exploring multimodality and my own way of knowing would help me to successfully implement multimodality for my students and to be a better teacher.

I’m also working on putting together the idea and/or story, of how running is the thing that is most present in my life that was also a part of my life when I was younger, and a devout Mormon. Writing, running, and music are the things that carried over to my post-mormon era. If this doesn’t come together in time for the final project it’s still working toward my dissertation in some fashion.

I plan to have complimentary visuals to go along with my podcast that is also spatially oriented. If you are familiar with Linda Russo’s work you will recognize parts of the structure: mapped, hyperlinked paragraph


Because I Give a Shipka

Part 1:

This is a GPS watch and heart rate monitor.

Running Multimodal
Running Multimodal



You can hear me tell you how it works.




The thing is somewhat intuitive which means I don’t know how to use everything on it – my birthday present from 2012. My parents spent a bit more on my birthday than usual ($100) because they have always been very supportive, sometimes overly supportive of my running. Sometimes I think using a GPS watch (and sometimes heart-rate monitor too) is a bit like getting the old approval from the parents, or peers, or coaches, (the latter two my previous collaborators) that I might not get from just going for a run. Other times I purposefully go running without my watch – I need to be liberated from data and instant feedback.

In addition to it composing my running, the data can be used to reflect the running culture that I sometimes live in. "Always Improving"

Like any popular sport, stats has taken over. Even in my collaborate, community of runners, The Palouse Falls Beer Chasers, we have a data driven, lightly competitive record.








And if my watch had the feature that some of the more expensive ones did, I could hook it to my computer and get data in alphabetic text, that might look something like my Beer Chasers stats:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.48.31 PM





Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.48.18 PM







Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.49.21 PMPart 2:

Shipka would say that how I run as I reflect is a key part of my process toward my end-goal or final product. The process behind making part one in this posting, involves thinking critically or differently about my running culture: I got my watch in place of a human coach and teammates; my present teammates and I collect data, compose our Wednesday workouts and drinking habits in multiple modes – remediated – after said run. And our workouts combined create collaborate data. I suppose it is no accident that the way scientists communicate, data, has shown up in our group of runners that includes a decent amount of scientists, students and professionals. And that we would have a narrative, alphabetic text remediation also makes sense as the founders of the groups were both professionals with an English degree (or two) and creative writers.

Here is the modes and processes and mediation: 1) meet at Birch and Barley on Wednesdays, (or don’t) then run, bike, walk, or do some kind of workout for at least 25 minutes. After working out, return (or arrive) to Birch and Barley. Order a beer. While drinking a clipboard goes around where we write down our data that one of our fearless leaders later puts into the website he built to house and display our data. It used to be a google doc/spreadsheet but as we’ve got a computer scientist in the mix, we remediated to a more impressive medium and end product (where you get the screenshots from of my runner data, for example).

Sometimes we also talk about the run we did, or a race we’re training for. Sometimes we talk about relationships. Sometimes work. Sometimes we cover all of the above and sometimes we do it while running before we even get to the drinking. So we’ve remediated, improved upon an arguably bad habit: drinking. We’ve gained an outlook of how others communicate and prioritize information. And this end product or result would most certainly not exist without different modes in the process.

Part 3:

Here are the parts toward a whole:

Toward a Composition Made Whole by Jody Shipka

Intro: Here Shipka states the overarching theme and caution in multimodal being equated solely with “new” technologies as well as the ongoing stigma attached to multimodal assignments, particularly with concern to the finish product.

Chapter 1: The title almost says it all with “The Problem with Freshman Comp.” We are constantly attempting an impossible task with English 101. We cannot teach the breadth and complexity of writing in one semester, for all fields of writing: impossible. Similarly, we cannot focus solely on the end-product quality or even usability if we are going to teach multimodal. Process and checking in and grading that process along the way.

Chapter 2: Shipka discusses the philosophy and theories that support multimodal learning. A “sociocultural approach” with analytic mediated action and reflection can revolutionize our classrooms and the way our students think about communicating and writing. Shipka reiterates the “always multimodal” concept of writing by keeping the idea that technology is not the only mode of writing as a major part and pushback in this chapter.

Chapter 3: Here Shipka gets multimodal, including images of multimodal writing process assignments. Ultimately, Shipka recognizes that both the planning writing or creations and the final product are equally important. Awareness of how we communicate and others communicate will obviously make us better communicators, including writing.

Chapter 4: In this chapter Shipka returns to more theory based information as she unpacks how she has scaffolded multimodality into her classroom over the years. What really struck me is the ability and power of being able to sit with, include, the unknown. It’s okay if we don’t know what our students’ ideas might look like or be assessed.

Chapter 5: Shipka gives practical ways to incorporate multimodality in the classroom. I especially like her idea of “flexible rhetoricians” (113) and grading accomplished in part by the students writing out and justifying why they made the choices they did. In this way, you could potentially not grade the final product at all but still give students grades for it via grading the process and choices – emphasis on the why, the rhetoric, intended, and achieved effect of the choices. Maybe a project turns out just awful but the student is able to write and identify why in such a way that they ultimately improve their critical thinking and communicating skills; even better to have a way to learn by hard knocks, but without having to have a failed grade to accomplish it.

Conclusion: Shipka sees the best writing as only accomplished after consciousness has been raised. And as teachers, we can only best cultivate this somewhat moral philosophy as well as multimodality projects if we practice what we preach. As a creative writing major in undergrad, I didn’t really know how to write a research paper. Now I know how, I don’t do it particularly well but well enough, and in the failures and consciousness and I better teach how-to write a research paper. If a teacher doesn’t know how to incorporate or grade a multimodal project, make something multimodal!

Part 4:

My questions for Professor Shipka:

Can you talk more about modes or mediums as an addition versus a replacement? How do you make this case to external parties in academia and English department? In a English 101 class, does this end up replacing an assignment to go alongside traditional text-writing? Or, do you feel adding multimodal works (best?) as a remediation of a text they already created or will create?

After sending out my questions, I actually read the book; so now I feel that my second question is pretty well addressed by chapter 2 and 5. So I would focus on my last two questions.

Reading Rhodes and Alexander

Part 1

multimodal of remixing - group effort
multimodal of remixing – group effort






Part 2

On Multimodality: New Media in Composition Studies

Alexander and Rhodes also call up Sirc’s ‘Happening’ in their text on multimodality (like Palmeri that we read previously, and part of Sirc’s book on ‘Happening’). However, I gleaned from this book that it wasn’t so much about calling up Sirc’s concept  of Happening exactly, it’s more about how his concept and ‘hippie’ scenarios allow from the non-traditional, doesn’t favor written text for writing and knowledge. Multimodality doesn’t really seem to me that they are going for the borderline spiritual in its complex experience. Multimodality seems more practical – or perhaps really what I mean is that it is in use almost everywhere – despite disparate levels of access. The immediacy of technology, the ubiquity of it, makes it so it seems ridiculous to not include multimedia/modality in our classrooms. The Happening aspect is that we don’t stifle other ways of knowing and that we recognize “ourselves as ‘irreducibly complex’ “ (202).

Complexity, obviously, is quite difficult. Alexander and Rhodes ask: “How do we expand our gaze to include multiple perspectives? How might we deploy an even celebrate our ‘permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints?’ “ (200). These identities and contradictory standpoints are apparent in a variety of case studies, one that they mention is “Cho” the Virginia Tech shooter and the aftermath of that experience. In addition to it being an example of how immediacy effects texts and information now, an interesting contradiction or pull away from emphasis on grammar arose in the comments on “Cho.” In the first peer review in my class this semester (and really every semester so far) the intensity with which grammar is used to judge writing as “good” is apparently. Yet when a blogger noted that Cho’s writing was juvenile or bad – the backlash of the blogger missing what was really important, the content. I guess what I’m getting at, is despite the horrific scenario, it’s fantastic to have people prioritizing content over mechanics and grammar. I want so badly to get my students on board with this – though without this kind of tragedy. But then of course it always comes back to the responsibility of preparing students for their other classes.

More and more I realize, it isn’t really that many people in English that are pushing the current tradition – when they do it is because they are responding to the expectations of outside departments: ‘fix the students writing to appease my standards.’ I think that we will never solve or be able to fully integrate multimodality so long as the sciences (with all their funding) prioritize certain ways of knowing and communicating. And breaking that down is difficult indeed as they seek to be easily translatable, “objective,” or concise. It’s hard to get people engaged  enough to realize the contradictory standpoint of scientific writing being objective (more like, it has an objective).

The way to get at these issues, audience awareness, using and not using multimodality in my English 101 class, is the idea of engagement that keeps coming up in this book. We need, “active, writerly participation” (105). And engagement as opposed to falling in line is something the scientists I’ve known and worked with recognize and extremely important. Engagement gets away from the “banking system” of education, “…it asks us to imagine ourselves as ‘irreducibly complex.’ It asks us to imagine ourselves as more” (202). Imagining ourselves as more is often really hard too, but usually something we would be hard pressed to disagree with doing.

I wanted to get at Storycenter  that Rebecca Goodrich talked about at Friday’s colloquium – tying on to trauma and expression as well as College Saga, but I’m already a bit over the reading response requirement.

Part 3

Exploring engagement – hope it doesn’t go awry. Update to be posted by 3pm 9/21/15






Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.05.47 PM



Engaging with my Freirian learning modes audio and physical.


Revising History & Creating Genealogies

When studying history we should account for the authorship coming from the winners of a conflict. When claiming rhetoric as modern we create an ancestry or lineage to where we connect to the source – because it gives us legitimacy somehow. But is this really necessary?

As a woman studying classical rhetoric it can be a bit exhausting or trying. So scholars like Meyers dig deep to look at the use of women and representation of women in classical rhetoric. Of the women used as argument in Cicero’s Phillipicae and Antony’s rebuttal Meyers observes:

“Cicero used rhetoric while Antony primarily employed military force. Both men’s actions in the public realm implicated the private sphere of the domus and women’s roles in that sphere. While it is easy to say that the private always influences the public, it cannot be argued cleanly that at the end of the republic, women directly influenced the governmental politics of their husbands or that women regularly had a voice in public spaces”(339).


As she writes, it cannot be argued cleanly. There isn’t much written down on it and it painfully echos the idea that women contribute through their men. Behind every good man stand a woman and that sort of thing. And then the argument that through a kind of persuasion or manipulation women had power and influence. Meyers supposes, “What can be and has been demonstrated is that women more likely influenced their fathers, uncles, brothers, and male cousins. The males tied to the women’s family names and that women’s power was more in the realms of property and commerce with their spouses’ clientes and amid than in government and law…” I am torn between loving her take on rhetoric and finding it semantically not-quite-reassuring. Women didn’t get equal representation and their lived experience versus representations as present in the Phillipics shows really, as Meyer culminates the, “use, excuse and misuse of feminine references” (349). I guess what I think on feminist views of classical rhetoric is that it might be trying too hard. They were sexist. Women were misrepresented. It is not so different from today. Luckily, women can wear and successfully use rhetorical pants too even if they were made for man; arguably we have more wiggle room to make said ‘pants’ work to our favor. Ultimately, while it’s not what I see myself pursuing, I do appreciate that scholars would take the time to study what was really happening with women in Cicero’s time – and not just take Cicero’s word for it.

What I do find myself being interested in is the sort of genealogy of rhetoric in academia that Corbett writes about. This because I am often fascinated at the prioritizing of ancient rhetoric in modern times. Especially because when you do look at the lineage there is a huge gap. The renaissance decided it was important and resurrected it. What might my English 101 course at WSU look like today if that had not been the case?

Corbett writes of, “a heavy oral residue in Tudor prose style throughout most of the sixteenth century,” (289) and sees parallels to the development of print with what is happening in technology and information today. We are way past oral residue but in fact moving back in to a more oral-centered way of communicating – and least in some cases and places.

And in terms of metaphor, open hand, closed fist makes me think of Star Trek Tarmock and also interesting insight into the genealogy of rhetoric.

“The closed fist symbolized the tight, spare, compressed discourse of the philosopher; the open hand symbolized the relaxed, expansive, ingratiating discourse of the orator. …The open hand might be said to characterize the kind of persuasive discourse that seeks to carry its point by reasoned, sustained, conciliatory discussion of the issues. The closed fist might signify the kind of persuasive activity that seeks to carry its points by non-rationale, non-sequential, often on-verbal, frequently provocative means” (288).

Evolution of rhetoric do seem to come full circle; or history repeats itself.

“I have been tracing out the contrasts between an older mode of discourse which was verbal, sequential, logical, monolinguist, and ingratiating and a newer style of communication which is often non-verbal, fragmentary, coercive interlocutory, and alienating. …If rhetoric is, as Aristotle defined it, ‘adiscovery of all the available means of persuasion,’ let us be prepared to open and close the hand as the occasion demands. Then maybe the hand-me-down from the dim past can lend a hand-up to us poor mortals in this humming present.” (295).

Wrong Orders in Orlando

“Can I get a vodka and bloody mary mix?”

“I’m out of vodka and I’m out of lemonade,” replies the flight attendant. She is off on a quest for both things before I even realize she said lemonade not bloody mary. It’s one am somewhere. In a few moments she has vodka but apologies about the no lemonade – something else?

‘The inner power and inevitability of this problem will assert themselves in due course,’ Cicero says.

“Uh, yeah, bloody mary,” I reply. She has that. And the combo will serve as food and a method of dulling the pain in and below my right ear for the next hour. It usually never subsides fully, no matter what combo of pain killer and decongenstants I use. Cicero was born a chick pea. I was born with chronic ear infections and ultimately eustachion tubes that are “too small” or underdeveloped. I will read through the pain because the pain doesn’t allow me to sleep anyway.

I’d say red-eyes were a young man’s game but the reality is I’ve only ever done it once before. I was twenty-two. It sucked. So, bearing in mind that I recently thought that the Disney Magical Express man said, “Please head toward the blue pudding” and that Lauren said, “It’s socks!” instead of science – here goes my post this week (alas, there was no pudding).

Cicero writes in what I will call his creative non-fiction visit with Brutus and friends, “how the worse might be made, by the force of eloquence, to appear the better cause” (Kindle location 41504-5). Giorgio Agamben engages with this concept with what has almost become the ‘go-to’ reference in politics, the Nazis (“He’s practically Hitler” and “that’s what the Nazi’s would do”) and the conveniently accepted state of exception that is the ironical in name, “Patriot Act”. How could we compare, really? (That’s what Hitler would do). Agamben writes of the detainees and detention allowed in this situation, “indefinite not only in the temporal sense but in its very nature as well, since it is entirely removed from the law and from judicial oversight (4, emphasis added). It made me think immediately of an episode of “This American Life” on ICE and the indefinite holding of illegal immigrants/deportees. You can learn a lot of more on this current state of exception by googling ‘illegal immigrant detention centers’.

“For it is of little consequence to discover what is proper to be said, unless you are able to express it in a free and agreeable manner,” (Kindle location 41898-901) and yet Cicero successfully argued to a dictator for clemency of Ligarius, a man that would eventually plot to kill Ceaser along with Brutus (Delphi classics). I found myself thinking, “how would Cicero argue for the deportees being held to our irrational and unruly senate? How would he make a case for someone under Nazi rule? Could he convince an associated terrorist ‘detained’ under the Patriot Act to be set free?” It is now that I understand Professor Villanueva’s starry-eyed admiration for the classical “rock star” rhetoricians. In a space and place where, “the temporary sacrifice of democracy itself” in the name of maintaining democracy (quoting a quote Agamben 9 [314]) I’m not sure he could. (And if that concept isn’t crazy-making enough for you, try it at 2 am on a plane on five hours of sleep – no “blue pudding” there. That’s really what it said/read). “[T]hese aporias explode into open contradictions” (Agamben 8). We are living in a time when “the sate of exception appears as the opening of a fictitious lacuna in the order for the purpose of safeguarding the existence of the norm and it’s applicability to the normal situation…an essential fracture between the position of the norm and its application” (31). The noble lie, I think Plato calls it.

And Cicero teaches, “For men will either wonder what all this has to do with that which is the subject of our inquiry, and they will be satisfied with understanding the nature of the facts, so that it may not seem to be without reason that we have traced their origin so far back…But I am aware that I often appear to say things that are novel, when I am in reality saying what is very old, only not generally known.” I believe is was T.S. Eliot that said there were no new ideas…at least that is what I remember Victor saying in English 515. That, and the ‘new’ and ‘news’ is rarely that. And that we create false genealogies in academia to give ourselves a sort of legitimacy. I’m reading Plato and understand it (noble lie?). I’m modeling my modern academic debates after the orations and writings from Cicero (so no one understands me but I sound smart). Of course I teach rhetoric, it’s so old it’s new to these students; it’s classy (truly), high philosophy on language with a moral purpose (Quintilian would teach as much).

“See how entirely free from fear I am. See how brilliantly the light of your liberality and wisdom rises upon me while speaking  before you” (pro ligarius Kindle Loc. 26411-12).

“Marcus Tullius Cicero was murdered by decree on December 7th in the year 43 BCE” (